TEXES 232 social science instruction
Terms in this set (20)
Instruction and Assessment
It is important to instruct and assess students in the proper manner. The information below will identify key processes, obstacles, and general concepts that students and teachers alike should be familiar with when studying the social sciences.
One of the key elements of any history class is research. Through research students are able to learn about history. Teaching students the best practices of research is a key element in a student's education.
Research: Primary sources
are documents created during the time under study. Primary sources can be: autobiographies, letters, interviews, news film footage, speeches, and official records. Primary sources are the preferred source for historians as they typically provide a unique insight into the time period or event in question. They also allow historians to apply their original interpretation, rather than being biased by the interpretations of others.
Research: Secondary sources
are documents created after the time under study. Textbooks, scholarly articles, biographies, and historical critiques are all examples of secondary sources. Secondary sources typically include the author's analysis of an event or of primary sources.
Research: Primary and secondary sources- benefits and use
- Both primary and secondary sources are useful in the study of history.
- Primary sources are useful in establishing accurate timelines, presenting facts that are essential in developing an accurate understanding, and giving insight into the perspective of a particular moment in time. They tend to, however, lack context. They do not give a broad view of an event that the passage of time allows. For example, a news article about the Emancipation Proclamation written in 1864 would give insight into how people at the time felt about the proclamation, but would provide no information about the impact it had on both freeing the slaves and the outcome of the war.
- Secondary sources are valuable in the interpretation and collaboration of multiple perspectives. They are often an effective means of getting a sense of the "big picture" of an event. Examining it from a distance allows for an understanding of both causes and effects of an event. However, the author's historical interpretation of events can limit or cloud the information. For example, historians for years referenced the Battle of Wounded Knee. They indicated that the event was a face-off between two opposing sides: the American army and warriors of the Sioux nation. In reality, it was a massacre of unarmed Sioux men, women, and children.
Perspective is created by how authors view the event/idea and their interpretations; the authors' perspectives will dictate how they present the event in question. Perspective is important because by understanding the perspective of a writer, the reader can be more aware of potential bias in the piece. Also, perspective is important because students need to be able to understand multiple perspectives. Understanding point-of-view allows the reader to understand different perspectives of events, concepts, and ideas; it is best to understand the point-of-view of multiple sides of an event.
Bias is a preference for a particular perspective, without the ability to see a different perspective. Every piece of historical writing—primary or secondary—contains bias. Bias does not necessarily discredit a source, but it is important for a student to be able to identify bias in an article so that the student can incorporate that into his understanding of both the source and the historical event.
Bias can usually be categorized into one of the following:
• Framing Bias- Framing bias is when an author presents, or frames, an issue
that affects the way the reader perceives it.
• Confirmation Bias- Confirmation bias occurs when a person seeks to confirm
what he already knows, without consideration to evidence which might be
• Negativity Bias- Negativity bias occurs when the focus of a piece focuses only,
or predominately, on the negative aspects without regard to positive aspects.
Political speeches or political cartoons are often used as primary sources on tests. While these pieces are inherently biased, they also provide invaluable insight into the attitudes and beliefs of the time period. For example, in 1945, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech to Congress in which he asked for a declaration of war. Roosevelt, of course, had strong anti-Japanese sentiment. He also had been waiting to join the war effort for quite some time. Both of these factors influenced the request he made of Congress, as well as the way in which he justified the request.
Research: The source of the material
In determining the extent of bias, if any at all, in a document, it is helpful to consider the source of the material. The background and purpose of a document can provide useful direction in determining bias. A few questions to consider are:
• When was the source created: was it created around the time of the event or sometime thereafter?
• Who created the source? Are they personally invested in the event/idea/concept or are they removed?
• What is the purpose in the author's writing? The purpose can change based on the context of the writing. A newspaper editorial's author will be writing to convince the audience of his point of view on a specific issue, while a writer for the Associated Press or Wikipedia will be detailing the facts of an event as objectively as possible.
• How reliable is the source in which the information is presented?
• The background of the author- Does the author have a personal
connection or history with the event?
• Who is the audience of the piece? If a piece is written for a presentation at
a political fundraiser, there is more reason to suspect bias in a piece than
if a piece is created for a general audience looking for factual information.
• Finally, what might be missing from this source? What perspective might
the author lack?
The Research Process
Research is a critical skill for students to master in the history classroom. Proper historical research follows six key steps:
• Step 1- Ask a Question- Before teachers or students can start researching, they should know what they would like to find out. For example, a student might ask: What were the causes of World War I?
• Step 2- Do Background Research- After an initial question is formed, it is important to research available information about that question to develop an understanding of the context of the question and to determine what sources are available to help answer it. In this phase, the student should rely primarily on secondary sources.
• Step 3- Refine/Narrow the Question - After conducting background research, students should then refine their initial questions based on what they have learned. For example, a student may narrow his question to: What were the political causes of World War I? Or how did the formation of alliances lead to World War I? The student might also find that his initial question uncovers additional issues to research. Instead of the causes of World War I, the student may decide to look at the rise of the Black Hand in Serbia.
• Step 4- Gather Evidence- Once students or teachers have clearly defined the scope of their research, they should begin finding relevant information. It is important to find a range of evidence representing a wide variety of types (letters, charts, graphs, speeches, etc.) and perspectives. It is best to start with primary sources and then review any existing secondary sources. (If a student is having a hard time identifying primary sources, a good teaching technique is to have him find a secondary source and begin inspecting the primary sources referenced by the secondary source).
• Step 5- Analyze the Evidence to Form a Claim- Once all of the research has been completed, students should analyze the evidence to see how it helps them answer questions. The response a student then creates to his question is called a claim or a thesis. It is important that this is based directly on the evidence.
• Step 6- Present the Thesis for Review- Once the thesis or claim has been created, the student should articulate his argument either in writing, as an essay or paper, or as a speech or audio-visual presentation using PowerPoint or other presentation tools. It is important that the student is able to explain to others his thesis and how it is supported by evidence.
Instruction in the Classroom- Bloom's Taxonomy levels
Instruction in the social studies classroom should be designed around Bloom's Taxonomy levels: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.
Instruction in the Classroom:
Vary the Instruction
- the teacher should include various activities and instructional practices into the social studies teaching, including visual, auditory, and tactile delivery methods.
- Use a variety of teaching and instructional strategies. A change of activities throughout the lesson will help keep the motivation high.
- While each student will be more drawn to different learning strategies, all students benefit the most by experiencing all three categories of instructional practice.
Instruction in the classroom- Visual tools
- Visual activities include maps, images, political cartoons, multimedia presentations and graphs, like bar graphs and circle graphs.
- For example, map making and map interpretation teach students about location, land patterns, and distribution of phenomena in a very concrete way.
- Population pyramids illustrate the number of people at different age groups in a society. This is particularly useful in the study of geography, as students can better understand the impact of the population on the environment, each other, and the development of culture.
- Other visual tools can help students better understand the central concepts of cause and effect and compare and contrast.
- For example, a timeline that charts events over a set period of time demonstrates how one event can lead to another.
- A flowchart can also show cause and effect; by actively drawing arrows from one event to another, students see the cause and effect relationships.
- A Venn diagram allows student to visually depict the similarities and differences between two ideas, individuals, or events.
Auditory teaching instruction strategies
Listening to speeches, music, or direct instruction are all auditory teaching strategies.
Tactile instruction strategies
tactile strategies include encouraging students to take notes, use study sheets, build dioramas or models, create and act out plays or skits, and provide opportunities for them to handle historical artifacts.
Use of Technology
Technology in the classroom is a great tool in the shaping of a social studies curriculum. Students enjoy working with gadgets and the skills gained will be of value in later studies. In today's world, students must have 21st century skills including a mastery of word processing and networking, and online research and presentation skills. Teachers should make use of the high quality multimedia websites available, which allow greater access to a wide variety of primary sources, and provide interactive elements that encourage students to engage in history. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) organize large quantities of geo-spatial information, and can be useful in identifying current geographic challenges and allowing students to grapple with current data. Google maps, for example, can be of great help in the location of events and places, and at different scales to suit your purpose. These kind of tools can help build students' spatial awareness, an increased sense of their place in reference to objects and places around them.
During the course of the school year, students will be introduced to unfamiliar words. The teacher should take care to ensure students become familiar with the terminology. Previewing new words before reading a source or document, pausing during direct instruction to define words, including vocabulary assignments for homework, and playing vocabulary games during class are useful methods to help students incorporate new vocabulary into their learning.
Teachers should be knowledgeable of different kinds of assessment instruments; they each provide different insight into students' learning. Assessments fall into two major categories- formal and informal assessments
- data driven
- there are various types of formal assessments that are useful in the teaching of social science. Multiple choice questions are useful for quick assessments of understanding and checking basic content knowledge. However, they can be confusing for students who are distracted by confusing phrasing or "trick" questions and answer choices. Fill-in and matching questions are useful for scaffolding students' learning, and helping them develop analytical and recall skills. Short-answer and essay questions allow students to articulate their thoughts more fully, without being hemmed in by the wording of a question. They also encourage students' ability to articulate their thoughts in a way that is understandable to others. However, it can be intimidating for students to face the "blank page", and the tests are most effective with a great deal of support. Projects and presentations are also an effective means of assessing students' knowledge. Like essay questions, they allow students the freedom to develop their own voices and to articulate their thoughts. They can be difficult to organize well and time-consuming, though.
- content or performance driven
Criterion-referenced & norm-referenced assessments
- Assessments can also be either criterion-referenced or norm-referenced.
- Criterion- referenced assessments measure student performance against predetermined criteria, like standards.
- Norm-referenced assessments measure student performance against the performance of a predefined population of students. This allows educators to estimate the placement of an individual student relative to the rest of the population.
- Over the course of a unit of study, students should be assessed in a variety of ways. By the utilizing a variety of questions, all students get a chance to succeed. To assess the learning process, a wide variety of sampling questions is a good idea.
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